There is a streaming platform (yes, another one) that you probably don’t know exists but that you will hear a lot about. It’s called Hayu, it’s part of NbcUniversal – the family is that of Comcast – and it’s the first video-on-demand streaming subscription service completely dedicated to reality shows in the Bravo world (the American cable broadcaster that broadcasts them at home) and offering all episodes and all seasons, in one place, contemporary with the United States and in the original language.
Launched in the UK, Ireland and Australia in March 2016, Hayu is currently present in Italy and over 40 countries. With over 300 shows, for a total of over 9,000 episodes available for download and streaming on all mobile devices, tablets, laptops and smart TVs. The price – just under 5 euros per month – of the subscription is decidedly lower than that of the competition
Hayu’s strategy, in an increasingly competitive scenario where the budgets of television series rise more than the pizzas we prepared in lockdown, is not to touch the ball on the field scripted to converge their strengths in reality and talent shows, with new titles available every month.
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From the mega-franchise of The Real Housewives – born in 2006 in the wake of the popularity of the TV series Desperate Housewives – composed of 11 versions in the United States and 21 international adaptations (including our Neapolitan remake), to the saga of the entrepreneur Lisa Vanderpump and her staff – an epic for ten seasons plus two spin-offs – passing through the 20 seasons of the competition culinary of Top Boss (aired since 2006 in the United States) with its countless spin-offs, up to the extravagance of travelers who choose the super-yachts of Below Deck, aired since 2013 and parent of four series-rib. The Kardashian clan – which for twenty seasons found a home on Bravo, before migrating elsewhere – is always available for another rewatch, as well as the various specials dedicated to the most paparazzi family in the world. Space also for the darker – but no less compelling – side of True Crime documentaries and docuseries: on Hayu there are products such as The Real Murders that retrace crime stories that actually happened.
Hayu’s stylistic code are great personalities: women who are not afraid to have their say, entertain (and have fun) and unleash pandemoniums that entertain millions of viewers around the world. It is no coincidence that some of the most recognizable faces of the series belonging to the Bravo galaxy are women such as Teresa Giudice, Kathy Hilton (yes, mother of Paris and Nicky), Denise Richards, Lisa Rinna, Kyle Richards and Erika Jayne – the latter extremely polarizing personality , so much so that it even got Jennifer Lawrence, two-time Oscar winner and super-fan of the Bravo world, to comment on his recent prowess in Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
What is Hayu’s secret? The intuition of Andy Cohen – deus ex-machina of Bravo programming and progenitor of the franchise Housewives – was to offer unpretentious but above all guilt-free entertainment. Reality shows – which exploded in American prime-time at the beginning of the 2000s with the success of Survivor e The Amazing Race – were synonymous with low-quality television: the so-called “guilty pleasure”, this is how they were defined or ‘sinful pleasures’, they were watched by millions of viewers even if none of them would have admitted it (a bit like what happens with the right-wing electorate).
Bravo has revived a style – that of American hedonism launched in the 1980s by the Reagan era – opulent, chaotic and unapologetic. Whether they are housewives (not at all desperate) or characters who show themselves without any shame a Botched, no one in the series aired on Hayu feels the need to justify themselves or their lifestyle. There are no filters and above all there is no room for moralizing: we are facing the guilt-free television, the pleasure of looking at something for its mere entertainment value, without the need to appear smarter or more refined.
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The formula, well established over the last two decades, is a phenomenon capable of piercing the screen – literally. Since 2019 Bravo has been organizing a convention annual – precisely called BravoCon – which last October welcomed 30,000 fans to the Javits Center in New York City to give the public the opportunity to meet more than 150 personalities from the Hayu galaxy. Over the course of three days, the event generated more than 74 million stream on NbcUniversal platforms in the United States. As the Anglo-Saxons say: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”: what some might consider trash will be someone else’s gold mine.